Early Years Handbook
How the publisher describes it:
“This publication is a result of collaboration between five leading subject associations. The Association for Science Education (ASE), The Design and Technology Association (DATA), The Geographical Association (GA), The Mathematics Association (MA) and the National Association of English (NATE).”
Review by Helen Williams
“Many teachers are attempting to draw together the separate threads of what has seemed to be a very disparate curriculum”
This is a welcome collaboration at a time when many teachers are attempting to draw together the separate threads of what has seemed to be a very disparate curriculum, in order to provide a richer, more holistic experience for their young children. A forward written by the Rt Hon Margaret Hodge, Minister for children, young people and families, gives this initiative the status it deserves.
Max de Boo, consultant in primary science and early years education, is the editor, and this is probably what gives this book its knowledge and understanding of the world feel. De Boos comprehensive introduction sets out clears principles for early years education and is well referenced. De Boo states that a good starting point sets the mind and imagination racing (p17). At a first flick-through I was a little disappointed at some of the chosen themes, for example How many legs? as a maths theme (yet more counting) and I have seen Handas Surprise already tackled very well in early years classrooms. However, on further reading I found a wealth of ideas well illustrated by extracts of childrens speech and photographs that speak volumes - setting my mind racing about what I could do next week. There are twelve rich starting points here, although naturally I felt drawn to some more than others (my favourite ones are Save Incy Wincy spider, Can you get to Grandmas safely? and Do I have to wear my coat?). I also liked Its my turn! - an uncommon mathematics theme. I read cover-to-cover in a couple of hours, making notes of things to try myself.
All 12 themes are all cross-curricular with five or so key focus areas identified. These include recognisable curriculum areas such as mathematics and PSE, as well as generic skills and attitudes such as sharing ideas and problem solving. Each theme spans six pages, broken down under seven subheadings: Before you start, Starting points Challenges and responses, Childrens voices, Further activities, Assessment for learning and References and further resources.
- Photographs and extracts of childrens speech recorded whilst they work, bring the pedagogy alive and breathe life into the themes, helping me as a practitioner see where the suggestions might take me and the children, what I might expect to see and hear. Very helpful.
- Planned outcomes outline what I expect the children to learn from engaging in this. In real-speak rather than in objective-speak a real help in observing and assessing our childrens progress, and in planning next steps.
- Rich practitioners questions: These come under the heading of productive questions and include many examples of questions to sustain interest and develop shared thinking. The section Childrens voices often contains these questions in context.
- Teacher reflections: I found it useful to read practitioners thoughts on the activity. It can be difficult to interpret what I see, especially when working alone. This section articulates and validates early years teachers - often intuitive sense of what has happened.
- Including examples of child-initiated responses help us recognise and make use of the childrens interests as well as our own agenda.
This book is, de Boo states in the introduction, an attempt to demonstrate best practice (p17). It left me wanting more. It is a real attempt to explore and to make official what might interest children and how we might build on that. Its weakness perhaps, is some more imaginative mathematics. What a shame ATM was unable to become involved in this project. A small quibble about the title - THE early years handbook? Or A?
Helen Williams • Educational consultant for early years mathematics
Paperback: 98 pages
Publisher: Geographical Association
Product Dimensions: 29.4 x 20.8 x 0.8 cm